Before we become, at the beginning of Lent, too immersed in sackcloth and ashes, it is suggested that we start everything with a clear, explicit, expression of THANKSGIVING! Take a...
This Sunday immediately precedes Ascension Thursday – and sa there is
value in attempting to ensure that we have the
EASTER MYSTERY (the empty tomb and the resurrected Lord) clearly and
firmly to hand. All matters are rolling to a climax in the celebration
of Pentecost which is a mere two weeks away.
Have I really unwrapped the Easter Egg or is it still ‘hiding’ inside
the special gift wrap
?! Then, perhaps, I need not only to unwrap the ‘egg’ but to really
enjoy it, the ‘egg’ must be eaten, become a part of me as it is
At the same time I should be aware that a variety of imitations and
substitutes are easily available – those awful soft marshmallows
covered in a sticky veneer of chocolate (or a bunny rabbit dressed in
the same camouflage) which makes it impossible for me to distinguish
between the chocolate and the marshmallow!? I must break the egg, see
that it is empty inside, and enjoy making it my very own.
If we pay good attention to the verses given for
THIS SUNDAY’S RESPONSORIAL PSALM[ 65 or 66] we might well discover the
meaning of the images presented at the start of this reflection. We
need to discover for ourselves the MEANING OF THE EASTER MYSTERY.
These reflections try to be clear but not obvious – playing only seven
tones of the scale and allowing readers to finish in their heads,
becoming active, starting to wonder, and so beginning to imagine and
discover for themselves. (The good preacher strives to achieve the
Our Psalm provides a good synthesis. “Cry out with joy … come and
see the works of God … I will tell what he did for my soul.” Before
the celebration of Ascension am I really joyful having gone and seen
the works of my God and now able, eager, to tell what he has done
When we reflect on
THIS SUNDAY’S FIRST READING [ACTS 8: 5 – 8. 14 – 17] we will recognise
that Philip and the apostles had discovered for themselves what the
truth of the Easter Mystery was. They had broken the egg open, seen
and tasted. There was joy and the ability to speak of it – to tell
others what the Lord had done for them. Before I celebrate Ascension
with any sort of meaning I must know clearly for myself what Easter
has done for me. Has the Easter Bunny been rejected for the myth it
is, and am I able to distinguish between the marshmallow and the
So, the closing words of
TODAY’S SECOND READING [1 PETER 3: 15 – 18] become powerful. “For
Christ also died for sins once for all …. that he might brings us to
God … alive in the Spirit.” A number of personal challenges face us
here. In the first place, am I convinced that my sins have been taken
care of? Not that I no longer ‘sin’ but that I am able to handle them,
get over them, rise above them? Do I accept that sin in my life is no
longer in control because I have been brought to God by the
resurrected Lord, and there is nothing I am unable to handle – in
Christ and with the Spirit? Have I abolished the guilt complex?
As today’s Psalm told us, “come and see the works of the Lord … come
and hear … he has turned the sea into dry land..” I am no longer
drowning – I have taken the plunge! I have learnt how to swim!
Much of what we have said about confronting our sinfulness is
intimately linked to Pope Francis’ emphasis on the mercy of God. How
this fact develops must always integrate the fact that God’s mercy is
linked to God’s love and our own love of God. Too often we talk
blithely about our love of God but do we really understand that this
love only really exists if our Christian endeavour is focussed on the
manner of our growing acceptance of God’s overall ‘control’ of our
lives. Love, like it or not, controls.
THIS SUNDAY’S GOSPEL [JOHN 14: 15 – 21]
explains this focus clearly. How effectively do the commandments of
the Lord ‘control’ our lives and living. The word living is used
deliberately because the keeping of the commandments belongs to the
living of the lives we lead. In our Gospel Jesus speaks about keeping
the commandments. Believing the commandments is only the beginning of
It is in the keeping that our belief in them enters the realm of reality.
In addition, we should not overlook that our Gospel reading tells us
that it is in the keeping that the Lord’s love is manifested to us. We
all like to keep (hold on to with firmness and single-mindedness) the
things we love and hold dear … acknowledge and KNOW their value and
importance. Jesus makes it clear that our loving of God is essentially
linked to the keeping of the commandments.
As we keep them, the reality of God-in-Christ is manifested to us.
Disobedience results in distancing ourselves from our Christian God.